The Localism Bill: Essential Guide

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The  Localism Bill, the main tenets of which are outined in this guide, lays down the legislative foundation for decentralisation and the radical transformation of the relationships between central government and local government, communities and individuals and a shift in power from the state to local communities.

The Bill has six essential areas of reform :

  • Lifting the burden of bureaucracy
  • Empowering communities to do things their way
  • Increasing local control of public finance
  • Diversifying the supply of public services
  • Opening up government to public scrutiny
  • Strengthening accountablity to local people


The Guide is intended as a stimulus to help policy makers within Whitehall and beyond develop ideas for further decentralisation. A progress report will be published in the summer 2011 on how each Whitehall department is implementing the six essential actions. Best practice will be shared with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The impact on the arts will be far reaching - we are already seeing the disaggregation of budgets to the level of local councils - for example the London Councils have cut cross London budgets by £3m. In rural areas this will become unmanageable for arts development services - in South Cambridgeshire for example, there are over 100 parishes. The opening up of budgets to public scrutiny means that all expenditure by public bodies over £500 will be published - arts expenditure is very vulnerable to being misinterpreted and the subject of bad news stories. The dissolution of area planning will leave a gap in the provision of joined up services. There will be opportunities for cultural organisations to bid to run services - with the proviso that these bids will need to be strong enough to fend off the corporate sector. Listening to local people will be key and speed will be essential as the change is rapid.



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